Albert Einstein Failed School Math

By Dr. Robert Wallace

June 7, 2017 4 min read

DR. WALLACE: I get A's and B's in all of my classes — except math, where I only get C's. My math grades have kept me off the honor roll. I have taken two years of math (algebra, geometry) and that fulfills my math requirement for graduation.

My dad, who is a math genius, is always on my case to get better grades in that subject. I study hard and do all my homework, but I just don't find math easy. My dad is insisting that I sign up for calculus next school year when I will be in the 11th grade. I'd rather not take any more math because I want to become a high school English teacher and I'd like to make the honor roll my last two years in high school.

I know that my father will make the final decision on my taking calculus, but I'd like to hear what you have to say about this since you're a former teacher and principal. — Nameless, Portland, Ore.

NAMELESS: Sounds to me like something doesn't quite add up in your relationship with Dad. He loves math and is forcing it on you. I fear all he's going to accomplish is inculcating in you a lifelong hatred of the subject. He needs to let up.

In my opinion, you should be allowed to take other challenging courses in your junior and senior years — not merely so you can make the honor roll, but also so you can maximize the benefits of your high school education. Given your interests, a course in creative writing or Shakespeare might be more beneficial than calculus.

By the way, Dad, you must be aware that Albert Einstein was a complete failure in math when he was in school. He became a brilliant theorist only when he was able to approach the subject in his own way.

No one learns when a subject is forced down his throat.


DR. WALLACE: When I was 5, my parents divorced and I went to live with my grandmother in the country. I am now 13 and have been with my grandmother for eight years and I love her very much. She is more like a mother to me than my own mother.

About 3 months ago, my mother remarried and she and my stepfather want me to move in with them. This means I would leave all my friends and teachers in Arlington and move to Memphis with my mother and a stranger who would be called daddy.

I do love my mother, but I'm a country girl and Memphis is a big city. At home with Grandmother, I'm needed and wanted. Moving in with my mother and her husband would change all that. I know the decision is up to my mother, not me, but I'd still like to hear what you think about this. — Vanna, Jackson, Tenn.

VANNA: If I were in a similar situation, I would feel exactly the same as you. Leaving an environment where you feel comfortable, loved and needed to go to one where you will be a stranger can be traumatizing. I hope your mom understands this, and realizes how close you are to your grandmother.

If you must move, your best bet is to look at this as an adventure rather than an uprooting. If your mother and stepfather have a positive and loving attitude, and truly welcome you in their midst, then your move to Memphis could be a growing and learning experience. And I'm sure you will make new friends once you have settled in at school.

I've been to Memphis and know it is a beautiful city with a rich history. Give it a chance. "Country" is in your blood and will always be a part of you. You won't lose it by moving to Memphis and you'll never be more than a visit away from Grandmother who will be sure to give you a warm welcome when you see her during vacations!

Dr. Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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